Senate rejects plan to allow parents to opt out of standardized tests
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) speaking during a news briefing at the U.S. Capitol last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Emma Brown July 14 This story has been updated.
The Senate on Tuesday defeated an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act that would have allowed parents nationwide to opt out of federally-mandated state standardized tests without putting school districts at risk of federal sanctions.
The chamber voted 64 to 32 against the amendment, proposed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) amid a backlash against mandated standardized tests. “Parents, not politicians or bureaucrats, will have the final say over whether individual children take tests,” he said.
[Parents across the country are revolting against standardized tests]
But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — the Republican co-sponsor of the carefully crafted bipartisan bill — spoke forcefully against the proposal, saying it would strip states of the right to decide whether to allow parents to opt out.
“I say to my Republican friends, do we only agree with local control when we agree with the local policy?” said Alexander, who has framed the bill as an effort to transfer power over education from the federal government to the states.
The vote sets up an important difference to reconcile between the House and Senate bills to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the nation’s main federal education law.
Current law requires school districts to ensure that 95 percent of children take the exams, a provision meant to ensure that administrators don’t encourage low performers to stay home on exam day. The Senate bill mandates 95 percent participation of students who are required to be tested, but allows states to decide whether children who opt out are among those who are required to be tested.
But under the House bill, parents who opt their children out of tests would not be counted in the participation rate of any state, effectively removing them from the accountability system altogether. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed that provision, saying it opened a loophole to hide achievement gaps.
[House passes No Child Left Behind rewrite]
Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
In my research into Diversity and Accessibility in Instructional Design and Technology, I came across the following 2 articles that discuss the legal debate over allowing parents the option to allow their child to opt out of standardized testing. Should this be something parents should have a say over? What are your thoughts?
Senate adopts Isakson’s opt-out amendment on standardized tests10:37 a.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2015 | Filed in: Education
ExploreSIGN UP FOR E-NEWSLETTERSThe U.S. Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to the “Every Child Achieves Act” that aims to inform parents about opting out of standardized testing.
Isakson’s amendment, which was passed by a unanimous vote Tuesday, would require any local educational agency that receives federal Title I funds to notify parents of each student attending school that they may request information regarding any state or local policy, procedure, or parental right regarding participation in mandated assessments.
During debate on the amendment, Isakson, who was chairman of the Georgia Board of Education from 1997-99, took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support his amendment.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
“Every parent has the right to know whether or not the state allows an opt-out or not” from standardized testing, Isakson said. “That way, if a state does not allow the ability for parents to opt their child out of testing, then it is a parent’s right as a citizen to go to the Board of Education to voice their opinion and ask for an opt-out.”
A vote on final passage of the “Every Child Achieves Act” is expected this week. The act is Congress’ attempt to rewrite the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. It aims to whittle away at the federal role in education policy and instead shift to the states decisions about how to use the required reading and math assessments to measure school and teacher performance.
In the book, Design and Deliver: planning and teaching using universal design for learning, the authors describe UDL as a framework for designing. They point out that “you seek to design the space in which you teach and the lessons you provide using the variety of options suggested within the framework. Then implement those options and reflect on your student’s participation and outcomes.”
At the core of design, it’s ultimately about
“providing consciously selected and research options to all students, so they can ultimately learn to
guide their own learning.” (Rose, 2014) I found this to be a very simple description of the goal of distance learning. We are seeking to design and instruct in such a way so that learning takes place, and we produce lifelong learners, who can become independent, actively navigating their own learning. Nelson, Loui Lord,, and Inc ebrary. Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning. 2014. Web. 20th September 2015
Instructional Design Trends Compass: Calling IDs to Action How to Put Instructional Design Trends to Action.
Shauna LeBlancVaughan writes a thorough article on her blog, Elearning Industry, titled 2015 Instructional Design Trends Compass: Calling IDs to Action How to Put Instructional Design Trends to Action. http://elearningindustry.com/2015-instructional-design-trends-compass-calling-ids-action
She breaks down the following trends: Science of Learning, Virtual Workplaces, Social Learning, and Team Cognition, Competency-based Education, Big Data, Personalized Learning, Nano Learning vs. Mini E-learning, Gamification and Flow.
In review of her article, I was especially interested in the science of learning. Of particular interest is the idea that the science of learning brings attention to the brains cognitive limits, prior knowledge, and eliciting emotion by using storytelling for complex simulations. In order to become a good IDT designer it’s important to understand the science of learning and how the brain functions in its ability to retrieve and store information. Perhaps the most interesting is the concept of eliciting emotion by the use of story-telling for complex simulations.
This concept really needs to be a focal point, especially when training new teachers in education. As a ten year veteran, I find so often that new teachers come into the field with all the theory but often with only a 3 month student teaching assignment, (some maybe more) and they lack the experience or training on how to handle specific situations.
As I look at the field of special education, particularly autism and behavior disorders, there is a need to simulate classroom situations in order for educators to understand not only appropriate responses, but the reason behind those responses. If we could create training that simulates certain classroom situations, with right and wrong responses, perhaps this would be a beneficial approach in training educators.
The best education is often experience, but if we can create story-telling simulations of common events, it could enhance overall learning. This could be applicable to any job related instructional training. Instead of the typical multiple choice response test questions, perhaps we can design a better model, using simulated exercises that require response questions to guide the learning process.
In chapter 36 of Instructional Design and Technology, Reiser and Dempsey explore different learners and how diversity impacts the way in which one learns, specifically as it relates to assistive technology, multiculturalism and a model of multimodal instruction. “Curriculum and instruction should include accessibility alternatives that engage students with different backgrounds, learning styles, abilities, and disabilities (Simoncelli & Hinson, 2008).”
How, as designers of IDT, do we accomplish this? Reiser and Dempsey give the analogy of quilt squares, in which all the pieces need to strategically fit into place. How do we create good design that caters to different learners and maintain cohesive instruction?
Stay tuned as I will seek to find the answers.